Health Team

With the US making no progress on average daily Covid-19 cases last month, officials fear a coming crisis

The US made no progress lowering its baseline of Covid-19 cases since last month, despite experts' urgency over the need to reduce cases before entering into the challenging fall and winter seasons.

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Christina Maxouris
CNN — The US made no progress lowering its baseline of Covid-19 cases since last month, despite experts' urgency over the need to reduce cases before entering into the challenging fall and winter seasons.

On September 1, the US averaged about 42,290 new cases and by the beginning of October, the average new cases stood at about 42,785, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That number is double what it was in June, when lockdown restrictions began to ease. Back then, the US averaged roughly 20,000 new cases a day.

"No matter how you slice it, that's not good," Fauci said last week about the country's baseline. "We're looking at 40,000 new cases per day. That's unacceptable and that is what we've got to get down before we go into the more problematic winter."

The average of new cases shows the virus is still spreading rampantly within US communities. Infections have also made their way into the White House, where President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced early Friday they have tested positive for Covid-19. They will remain in the White House as they recover, the President's physician said.

"We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately," Trump tweeted early Friday. "We will get through this TOGETHER!"

The President's announcement comes hours after he announced one of his closest aides had also tested positive for the virus.

'We are nearing a crisis'

Experts like Fauci say now is the time for cities and states to double down on safety measures to help combat a coming surge of Covid-19 cases. One of those measures are face masks, which remain the country's most powerful tool against the virus until a vaccine becomes available.

If 95% of Americans wore masks, around 96,000 lives could be saved by January, according to projections from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The institute's director, Dr. Chris Murray, has warned of an explosion of Covid-19 cases in the coming months and a "deadly December" coming up. The IHME projects the US could see more than 3,000 daily deaths by the end of this year.

It also projects more than 370,000 Americans will have died by January. More than 207,000 have already died in the US since the start of the pandemic and more than 7.2 million have been infected.

Local leaders across the US are stressing similar warnings, with 25 states reporting more new Covid-19 cases than the previous week.

Kentucky's governor urged residents to help slow an "escalation" of cases, while Nebraska this week reported its highest number of new Covid-19 cases since May.

In Wisconsin, local and state leaders sounded the alarm after the state recorded its highest Covid-19 death count and hospitalizations this week.

"We are nearing a crisis in my community," said Dr. Paul Casey, medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "This spike we're seeing in Brown County, Wisconsin, should be a wake-up call to anyone who lives here that our community is facing a crisis."

Amid alarming trends, worries for schools

Meanwhile, as communities across the US report worrying Covid-19 trends, more students have returned to class.

Thousands of young students in New York City returned to school as the state reported new clusters and "hotspot" zipcodes. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday at least 11 zipcodes had a positivity rate higher than 3%, with some running as high as 6%. But he championed what he called a successful return to school and encouraged parents to sign waivers that will allow their children to be tested monthly. That testing, de Blasio said, will begin next week.

In Connecticut, where some communities are reporting an uptick in Covid-19 cases, more than 130 students and school staff tested positive for the virus last week, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.

That number is out of 600,000 or 700,000 students and staff, the governor added.

"Almost all of those who tested positive, that did not happen at school, that did not happen in the classroom, that happened off-campus," Lamont said.

"Maybe a party, maybe some sports, but that's -- perhaps the classroom is one of the safest places you can be."

Worries remain for older students too, as colleges in every state of the country have reported infections. New studies show that Covid-19 cases surged among college-age individuals just as universities reopened.

And this week, a North Carolina university announced a student who was seemingly otherwise healthy, died after Covid-19 complications.

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